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Darkling Thrush (UK)

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The Girl on the Train [DVD]
The Girl on the Train [DVD]
Dvd ~ Emily Blunt
Price: £3.99

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A DISGRACE!, 7 Mar. 2017
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Girl on the Train [DVD] (DVD)
With all the hype surrounding this picture, and in the context of the success of the book, this film is simply dreadful. It bears scant resemblance to the book - it fact, they had a damn nerve to even associate this film with it.

The film is so clumsily handled and lacks the urgency and grip of the book. The film is just a mess - a ponderous, witless mess.

Emily Blunt does a reasonable job with the miserable pickings slung at her. That being said, and to re-iterate, this film is an unmitigated mess.

If you have read the book - don't watch this tripe. If you haven't read the book, don't watch this tripe.

Good lord, what a waste of money!

Into The Wild Life (Deluxe)
Into The Wild Life (Deluxe)
Price: £13.74

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great album from a great band. More please, Lzzy!, 7 Mar. 2017
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This album is one those pieces of work work which should enjoy much greater success than has so far been the case. The same is true of this band and, in particular, the incredible Lzzy Hale. She is one of the best rock singers of any gender. In terms of a female rock singer, and I'm aware there are some very talented women out there, Lzzy shows a clean pair of high heels to anyone; past, present and as far as I can see and hear, the future too. Without any disrespect to the other band members; without Lzzy, there would be no Halestorm.

The songs on this album are, in the vast majority, simple superb. A little more considered, perhaps, than the previous albums but this is clearly down to the experience of life. Obviously, the stand-out tracks are I Am The Fire and the amazing Amen! But there are many more superb tracks.

I cannot understand the rather sniffy and uncomplimentary reviews posted here. Everyone is entitled to their opinion but, to be blunt, these reviews are just wrong. Simple as that. As a musician of many years experience who plays pretty much any style of music, I can confidently state that this is a phenomenal album and Lzzy is on top form here. She is just frighteningly good - peerless. Just in case you didn't pick that up earlier!

Just buy it!

Soul Eyes
Soul Eyes
Offered by ScreamingCd UK
Price: £8.13

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars UTTERLY SPELLBINDING - A GREAT MUSICIAN, 17 Dec. 2016
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This review is from: Soul Eyes (Audio CD)
Every so often, a very special musician comes along and captures the attention with music so exquisite, performed so exquisitely, it fair takes the breath away. Such is the case with Kandace Springs.

This is a gorgeous, involving and utterly compelling album. Once started, it is so easy to just sit there and listen to the whole album and be held in Ms Springs' thrall throughout. The musicianship is of the highest order and charged with emotion - Kandaces' piano voicings are so intoxicating; quite dark with super-clever harmony. Her voice - well, words cannot grasp it, soft but with a determined power when required - effortless and sublime phrasing, too.

I doubt Ms Springs will get the commercial success she deserves given all the manufactured dross which inhabits 'the charts'. This doesn't change the fact that this work is damn near perfection.


J.S. Bach: Sonatas and Partitas for Classical Guitar
J.S. Bach: Sonatas and Partitas for Classical Guitar
Price: £5.09

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars BACH AD LIBITUM? The continuing decline of classical guitar musicianship, 17 Dec. 2016
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I have to say that I found it somewhat excruciating listening to some of these readings. The pieces presented here are among the most important in the Bach catalogue. Probably none more so than the famous Chaconne from Partita No.2 - this monumental piece deserves to be treated with care and not a little passion. This is all too lacking here; the Chaconne is played too much like a Sarabande and without the vital attention to phrasing and timing. It is rather distressing to hear such a great masterpiece treated in this way. Similar tempi are used on other pieces and there is, to my mind, an overall lack of precision and musical involvement. It is possibly the slowest rendition of this piece I have ever heard - on any instrument. As such, it is easy to miss many of the rhythmic devices which Bach uses. The wonderful Chorale-like opening to the D major section is a disaster; however most modern interpretations clatter through this important variation (of the 33) without a thought.

The famous Gavotte en Rondeau from Sonata 3 (which Bach himself transcribed for lute as the 4th Lute suite BWV1006) is a little better but all the pieces in this suite should have a lightness and vivacity which is glaringly lacking.

As a guitarist of some 45 years of playing experience, I was attracted to this recording by the first 2 violin sonatas but ultimately I am left totally disappointed.

It would appear that the days of the great interpreters of this music - on guitar - are now gone. For guitar, the reference recording for Bach's famous Chaconne remains John Williams’ peerless and passionate reading on 'Virtuoso Variations For Guitar' - there is no finer recording of this piece on guitar (in my view on any instrument). The other great interpreter of Bach on guitar is, of course, the great Julian Bream. I wish Bream had recorded more of Bach’s work - his recording of the Fugue from Sonata No.1 remains unsurpassed. The recordings I mention here are available on compilations at bargain prices. Yes, the recordings are not of the highest quality but it doesn’t matter - they still stand unequalled.

It is a great shame that these two giants of classical guitar STILL stand alone in terms of serving the music. Their contribution to the guitar repertoire is equally vital. It seems that modern classical guitarists are but mere clones churned out by over-zealous and dictatorial guitar teachers. The flair, panache and the wonderful rule-breaking of Segovia, Bream and Williams is a distant memory. Modern players seem to have a sterile, unimaginative and ultimately unintelligent [a characteristic particularly prevalent among classical guitar players, I’m ashamed to say] approach with the focus on speed and efficiency. Ultimately, that's really rather sad.

You & I: Summer - EP
You & I: Summer - EP

5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly superb and sublime., 21 Sept. 2015
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Again, like her earlier EP, this selection presents an amazing musician weaving a wonderfully ethereal magic. She is unique and the music is often tinged with a darker longing.

Effortless virtuosity and not a sequencer nor vocal correction processor in sight!

Just wonderful. Just buy it!

You & I: Spring
You & I: Spring

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars UNIQUE, BEAUTIFUL AND BRILLIANT., 9 Jun. 2015
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This review is from: You & I: Spring (MP3 Download)
Please excuse the length of this review it is 'a challenge' [hate management-speak!] to describe such a unique talent.

I first heard Ala.ni on BBC's 'Later with Jools Holland' on the last shows of first series of 2015. She is just SUPERB - just when I thought I'd heard it all; a marvellous new and unique talent emerges. Her performances left me stunned and dazed. I had to hear more!

Let me add that I listen to all types of music - from the Renaissance to Rock, Blues, Soul, Funk, Punk, Old Metal, Nu Metal, Prog, La Guitarra Flamenca, Jazz - any quality music.

Never heard anyone quite like Ala.ni.

This EP is wonderful. You won't find any fancy studio gimmicks here - no pitch autocorrect, no 6 foot-thick heavy over-production. No pounding 15 inch bass drivers.

This is real organic music and it has a very much `live' feel to it. It is very much more than the sum of it's parts, however.


'CHERRY BLOSSOM' is a wistful elegy sung with a deceptively relaxed virtuosity giving the song, well, almost a 'halo' effect - it just sticks in your mind and won't let go. There is a very slight darker undercurrent with this song. Beautiful.

'OL' FASHIONED KISS' is an utterly beautiful and gently sensual song which sparkles with Ala.ni's beautiful phrasing. There is minimal backing on this track but enough to give a clear and gentle swing feel which propels the song along beautifully. It is Ala.ni's perfect and luminous voice that makes this, for me, the best track on the EP. Every time I hear it just makes me smile for ages.

WOO WOO may only be 41 seconds but this shows the singer's unique creativity. Every bit as unique as early Kate Bush - it's a kind of reverie and is almost hypnotic. It's not just filler either! It's a statement of Ala.ni's uniqueness and versatility.

There are clear hints of Billie Holiday, also a little Ella Fitzgerald (Ala.ni's voice is a higher register than both of these greats)- but don't get me wrong there are modern influences too and overall the style is Ala.ni's own. Her phrasing is just divine.


It's Ala.ni's voice that really knocks you over - SO sweet a tone (not sickly) with pretty much perfect control and phrasing that could stop a clock!

If you loved Adele's huge worldwide hit off `21' with just piano accompaniment - although Ala.ni's voice is completely different - you may just love this too.


André Rieu: Under The Stars - Live In Maastricht [DVD]
André Rieu: Under The Stars - Live In Maastricht [DVD]
Dvd ~ André Rieu
Price: £13.99

4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Wrongly classified, 18 Dec. 2012
I write this after witnessing Rieu receiving an award and, worse still, performing at the recent 2012 Classical Brit awards. These awards spoke long and loud about the extreme dumbing down of 'Classical Music' - all for the further enrichment of greedy Music Label 'Boardrooms' who know not the difference between G sharp and A flat [!]. I was also shown this DVD by a friend and former pupil of mine who was somewhat 'surprised' by it, shall we say.

One notable exception, and in a different league to anyone else at the above mentioned awards, was the marvellous Nicola Benedetti - a real musician in the true sense (not merely some pompous music teacher's clone). She made the 'Fixer with the Fiddle' reviewed here sound very sick indeed - much like the lurid colours of his 'orchestra's' outfits [my sincere sympathies to them]. Rieu's haughty strutting back and forth was risible.

This 'fluff' should NOT be classified under 'Classical Music' [which in itself covers many compositional styles]. This, and the rest of his 'readings' should be lobbed into 'Easy Listening'; 'Musical Parody' or just plain 'Other'. I could suggest an addition to the taxonomy used for classifying this and his other awesome and terrible offerings but I fear some might find the classification rather offensive.

Deeply awful. An affront to quality music and a real disincentive to gifted musicians.

Just as a suggestion, if you don't like serious classical music and prefer something a bit 'lighter' why not check out the very funny Victor Borge - unfortunately I do not know how much of his material exists on DVD or any video format. Alternatively, there's the wonderful Dudley Moore with his 'serious' pianist act. Brilliant AND classy.

If you like this material, fine; to each their own. If you are a 'fan' of Mr Rieu, that is your rightful choice. Everyone has a right to choose but I suggest, strongly, that Rieu's offerings should not be classified as 'Classical Music'.

If you are after serious, quality music, look elsewhere.
Comment Comments (12) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 9, 2015 9:53 PM BST

Baroque Guitar
Baroque Guitar
Price: £12.34

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Peerless!, 3 Nov. 2012
This review is from: Baroque Guitar (Audio CD)
Utterly superb throughout. Having bought most of these works on vinyl first and seeing Bream play them at recitals many times over the years; I have to say the performances here represent the pinnacle of guitar musicianship.

Without doubt the finest piece here is Bach's Fugue in A minor (transcribed from G minor). Bream's performance of it is powerful, precise, articulate AND passionate. It really does create a sense of wonder of Bach's towering genius and the 'world' he creates in pieces such as this. Sorry to be dogmatic about it but there is simply no finer interpretation of this work extant.

I have played and taught Classical/Spanish guitar for over 3 decades and if you have never listened to Bream, you are denying yourself access to most of the best guitar performances ever made. While there may be better technicians; there is, as yet, no finer musician in the Classical/Spanish guitar world than Bream.

It is true that some of the recordings are early but they are nonetheless invaluable - studio and electronics 'cork-sniffers' opinions are unimportant here.

Are the original recordings of Toscanini, Bruno Walter or Agustin Barrios worthless because the latest technology was not available to record them? Of course not.

If you are serious about Classical guitar and the baroque - especially Bach (there really was only ONE Bach!) - these performances are essential. Seek out also 'Julian Bream plays Bach' where Bream plays Bach's lute suite 2 (a magnificent suite with a vast fugue) plus other pieces.

The Guitar
The Guitar
Price: £8.99

16 of 23 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Nothing new. Resonable technician, lacks musicianship, 22 Oct. 2012
This review is from: The Guitar (Audio CD)
As a classical guitarist (at concert level) of some 4 decades; I am always looking for new guitarists to arrive and bring something new to this underrated instrument. Unfortunately, as was seen at the recent 'Classic Brit Awards'; the dumbing-down of classical music (and baroque, romantic, renassaiance, early etc) continues apace. I still haven't quite recovered from Andre Rieu receiving an award! What a terrible insult to any form of serious music!! Rubbish such as that belongs, strangely, together with most chart pop and Mantovani in the 'Easy Listening' section!

Milos is an able technician but he brings nothing to the music he plays, no passion, no anger, no delight. A great pity.

The only musician (I use the term advisedly) who displayed real talent at the Classic Brits was the amazing Nicola Benedetti - her performance (of probably something she was told to play) displayed her astonishing powers of interpretation and musicality. That's what real music is about.

If you want to listen to classical guitar played with passion, flair and sometimes breaking the rules in the service of the music, listen to the peerless Julian Bream. Not merely a guitarist but one of the greatest musicians of the 20th Century; he also commissioned some of the guitar's most important works. Not forgetting John Williams (the guitarist) whose early recordings contain some of the greatest moments of classical guitar playing - most notably, in my view, his recording of Bach's BWV1004 Chaconne (from the Partita of the same catalogue number). his is a mighty and moving performance of the piece, unequalled on any instrument, I would strongly contend.

There are some immensely talented new guitarists with real musicianship: tragically almost unheard of here - Tatyana Ryzhkova for example - equally tragically is that reviews of her performances on Youtube are mostly about her appearance. Musically, she leaves Milos way behind. As does another, albeit more successful guitarist, Xuefei Yang.

All real musicians - performers and composers - must, when they are ready, break free from their teacher/mentor. Otherwise, we merely end up with clones playing the same music in the same way.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 18, 2016 12:06 AM GMT


1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beguiling rock? Yes indeed. Sadly ignored masterpiece, 11 Jun. 2007
This review is from: Badlands (Audio CD)
This was one of my favourite albums for many years - you'd expect a record full of wild shread with the mighty Jake E Lee essentially at the helm. But, while there are guitar fireworks a-plenty; the songs still carry themselves. Awesome vocal power and some of the most demanded rhythm players on duty...its still more than the some of its parts. Some off the best tracks - Dancing on the Edge - just incredible - the hook being a 6 5-chord chromatic descent. Winter's Call evokes just that; a wistful and delicate start leading to distorted sections which stab to create menace as if to signal an arriving storm. Rumblin' Train - probably the best track on the album - a real rocker. Seasons - powerful and valedictory[in the true sense of the word] tense with reminiscence and regret. The last track [bonus for CD] is OK, remarkable only for us guitarheads in Lee's astonishing control of full-whack pinched harmonics.

UPDATE - MY GOD! I should have checked what I wrote - MUSE ARE BRILLIANT!! Matt Bellamy is a phenomenal and innovative musician as are his band. I made a terrible mistake. I just cannot apologise enough to Muse and all their fans!! I've deleted my comment (unprompted). My comment was aimed at the manufactured, over-produced, over-hyped 'bands' that were about at the time. Unfortunately more have reappeared. MUSE however, certainly do not fall into this category and have gone from strength to strength I'm glad to say. They were brilliant on Jools Holland's last show of the Spring 2015 series. Never write a review in a hurry!!

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